Simultaneous recovery and value-added conversion of hazardous heavy metal ions from complex wastewater sources is of great significance yet challenging. Herein, we demonstrate that highly toxic antimonite Sb(III) could be effectively recovered from antimony (Sb) mine flotation wastewater and converted into high-value-added metallic Sb using a novel facile atomic H* enhanced electrochemical reduction avenue coupled with thermal reduction by H2 gas. The high production of atomic H* generated from the electrochemical cathode with an optimum reduction potential of –1.2 V vs. Ag/AgCl, which is lower than the Sb(III) reduction potential of –1.0 V, might be attributable to the superior Sb recovery capabilities. Furthermore, the metallic Sb concentration at –1.2 V was 14.43 times greater than at –1.0 V due to the strong reductivity of atomic H*. In addition, Sb(III) removal efficiency was found to be as high as 98.52%, with a metallic Sb recovery rate of up to 1.67 mg min–1. The efficiency of Sb(III) recovery was demonstrated throughout a wide pH range, with metallic Sb being the main product, independent of the presence of multiple coexisting ions. Economic analysis also indicated that treating Sb mine flotation wastewater per ton may yield a net profit of $40.09. This research contributes to the advancement of an atomic H* enhanced electrochemical technology for high-valued heavy metal recovery from complex heavy metal-polluted wastewater.
- Atomic H*
- Flotation wastewater
- High-value-added metallic Sb recovery